Switched On – Bibio: BIB10 (Warp Records)

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

As its title confirms, this is the tenth studio album that Bibioaka Stephen Wilkinson – has completed. Much of that odyssey has been for Warp Records, where he has garnered a loyal following from albums such as Ambivalence Avenue, Mind Bokeh, Silver Wilkinson and the attractive Sleep On The Wing EP from 2020.

For BIB10, however, Wilkinson wanted to use more synths, drum machines and electric guitars, but in his words, ‘getting a more polished sound, without ironing the humanity out of it, was part of the ethos’.

What’s the music like?

Anyone following Bibio over those ten albums will know that he has a high quality threshold, and that his songs are consistently good and meaningful. His work also evades capture where genres are concerned, flitting between electronica, pop, folk and a lightly psychedelic approach.

BIB10 feels firmly rooted in the 1980s at times with its electro-funk work, but on other occasions when the guitar comes out it even passes close to the orbit of Steely Dan. The music has a typically airy disposition and an attractive lightness, while Bibio’s vocals are as always very nicely done.

Two tracks feature the resonant tones of Olivier St Louis – the breezy S.O.L. and the album closer Fools, which dips into RnB. Elsewhere, Off Goes The Light is an attractively light hearted song in a big space, Sharratt is a nicely designed web of guitar melodies, while the languid Rain And Shine has slight Eastern leanings.

Cinnamon Cinematic is a perky number where those Steely Dan references crop up, its closing guitar solo a good bit of fun. Meanwhile there are more pastoral overtones in the thoughtful tones of A Sanctimonious Song, with its woozy effects.

Does it all work?

It does. One of the funkiest of Bibio’s albums, it also contains some of his most satisfying, club-based songs. The drums machines work a treat, ensuring a bit of time travel for listeners as they go back three decades.

Is it recommended?

Heartily. Bibio remains one of our underrated musical wonders, and Warp really do have a treasure on their hands. More people should appreciate his music, and the way it sweeps our cares away!

Listen

Buy

Switched on – Bibio: Sleep On The Wing (Warp Records)

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Bibio has timed this release rather well. Sleep On The Wing is essentially a short album or a long EP, depending on your view – but it is an exploration of life in the wake of a loss, as well as a study of escaping the city to find peace in the countryside. In that sense Bibio – real name Stephen WIlkinson – is uncannily reflecting what many city commuters have found during the Coronavirus lockdown period, that an extended period in the country can shift the patterns of the mind considerably.

Sleep On The Wing is a deepening of Bibio’s folk connections too, using field recordings to bring the pure sounds of the countryside into the music, but also continuing his love of acoustic instruments. It has ten tracks and lasts just under half an hour.

What’s the music like?

Blissful. If you were indeed looking for music to help you escape the city, or as a distraction from the overwhelm brought on by electronic media in recent times, then this is definitely for you.

The music feels like a carefree celebration of the countryside, respectfully done but beautifully voiced. The pastoral language is soft but never too twee, and feels as green and pleasant as the beautiful cover from Joe Giacomet.

There is a slightly woozy feel about Bibio’s vocals, and when applied to the title track they give an appealing and slightly whimsical air. On Oakmoss they complement the rich acoustic guitar lines and ruminative violin,

The instrumentals are rather lovely. The Milky Way Over Ratlinghope spins a picturesque tale with the silvery tone of a viola and treble lines that include brief reveries for flute and wordless vocal. By contrast Awpockes is led by a softly picked guitar, while A Couple Swim follows the ripples of the water with the lazy lapping of its guitar,

The field recordings add to the charm. With what sounds like a thrush singing over running water, Bibio ensures Lightspout Hollow is bursting with life, while Crocus has a murkier profile.

Does it all work?

Yes, beautifully. Bibio’s songs or instrumental threads never outstay their welcome – if anything they could easily be stretched out for at least half their length, for his compressed way of working means time is never wasted.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Sleep On The Wing gets a strong recommendation, adding to the full to bursting Bibio discography a half-hour of pastoral charm. He is a remarkably consistent producer, but even so this is up there with his best work.

Listen

Buy

You can buy Bibio’s new release from the Warp Records website

Sound of Mind 10 – May Blossoms

As we move halfway through the eighth week of lockdown here in the UK, I thought it a good time to round up some of the best sounds I’ve been enjoying in the last week or two.

The arrival of spring is hopefully in full swing, and there are good signs of creativity throughout the electronic music community.

This playlist begins with the first track of the Conference Of Trees album from Pantha du Prince, before enjoying some rather wonderful pictures brought to us by Peter Broderick, Erland Cooper, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and brothers Brian and Roger Eno.

There is brand new music from Bibio, one of the standout tracks from Nathan Fake‘s Blizzards album and to wrap things up a remix of Philip Glass‘s Two Pages by none other than Max Cooper.

Enjoy an hour of escapism!

Ben Hogwood

Playlist – Sound of Mind 4: Weekend positivity!

Today it’s all about channelling some positivity for the weekend, in the form of some brightly polished electronic music.

That means some uplifting tracks from the likes of Bibio, Four Tet and Mylo – but beyond the solo producers we have some diva-licious contributions from Robyn, Little Dragon, Santi Gold and Róisín Murphy.

I hope you enjoy it – and stay tuned for more over the weekend!

Ben Hogwood